The Nativity of John the Baptist

John the Baptist was born to elderly parents. His father, Zechariah, belonged to the priestly order of Abijah and his mother, Elizabeth, was a descendant of Aaron. Both lived blamelessly and followed the commandments and regulations of the Lord. Zechariah, while conversing with the Angel Gabriel, considered the facts and decided God was mistaken – he and Elizabeth were too old to conceive a child. He demanded a sign and God more than provided; Zechariah would be unable to speak until his son was born.  Among his first words was this beautiful canticle, recorded in Luke 1:76-79:

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.

Zechariah’s words are sung each day as we close our service of Lauds. Even though June 24th is set aside as the Feast Day of John’s Nativity, we do, in fact, commemorate his birth at every Lauds service. His example of great humility, serving with love and without rancor, content to be the forerunner and the wilderness voice deserves our respect and admiration. He preached the good news at the risk of personal gain and safety, to fulfill his mission of delivering unwavering truth. May we, like John, one day say, “I am like the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, greatly rejoicing at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3: 29b-30

St. John the Baptist (Forerunner) – Sr. Faith Riccio, Artist

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